Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE)

Reader 1

Professor Paul Hurley

Reader 2

Professor Aseema Sinha

Rights Information

© 2019 Rebecca I Shane


The challenge facing liberal theories of democracy is to describe an organization of state that both legitimates state power and protects individual liberty. In Democratic Rights: The Substance of Self-Government, Corey Brettschneider develops the value theory of democracy that resolves this tension. By locating the democratic ideal in a set of core values with both procedural and substantive implications, the value theory legitimates state coercion only when it protects citizens’ rights. While the value theory guarantees both substantive and procedural rights, this thesis will show that Brettschneider fails to account for the necessity of a secure cultural context, without which members of a minority culture may not be able to enjoy the core values as Brettschneider intends. Yet, the value theory of democracy can maintain a commitment to equality and autonomy when amended to have specific ethnic and cultural identity protections. Ultimately, this thesis will argue that the amended value theory provides a framework for citizens to both evaluate laws and correct injustices based on whether or not the policies uphold the core values.

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Philosophy Commons